NYMC Faculty Publications

Preferences of Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Persons in Gender-Confirming Surgical Care: A Cross-Sectional Study

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Annals of Plastic Surgery

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INTRODUCTION: Increased awareness for transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals may lead to increased demand for surgical interventions in gender-confirming care. However, limited literature exists regarding transgender and gender-nonconforming preferences and experiences with medical or surgical care. The authors aim to characterize the medical and surgical care sought by this population, as well as their surgical preferences, motivations, and barriers to care.

METHODS: An online questionnaire about opinions and personal experiences with medical and surgical care during gender transition was publicized via regional online social networking forums in Connecticut and surrounding areas catering to transgender communities.

RESULTS: Responses were received from 313 participants. Participants were 97% male gender at birth and 92% white with an average (SD) age of 51.6 (13.5) years. Fifty-nine percent identified as male-to-female transgender and 20% as gender nonconforming. Respondents were aware of their gender identity at a mean (SD) age of 9.6 (9.0) years, but did not begin transitioning until a mean (SD) age of 38.9 (20.8) years, with gender-nonconforming respondents choosing to transition at a significantly younger age as compared with transgender respondents (29.8 vs 41.4 years; P = 0.0061, unpaired t test). Only 42% of all respondents, with a significantly greater number of transgender as opposed to gender-nonconforming individuals, had previously met with a physician to discuss transitioning (49% vs 21%, P = 0.002, χ test). Eight percent of the study population had undergone gender confirmation surgery (GCS), 52% were interested in GCS, and 40% were not interested in GCS. Primary motivation for GCS included discomfort in one's current body (28%), and barriers to GCS included cost (40%) and reactions of family (40%), partners (32%), and friends (25%).

CONCLUSIONS: Transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals lack medical support for gender transition, with fewer than half of survey respondents reporting a prior meeting with a physician to discuss transitioning. The reported perspectives offer important insight into transgender preferences that should act as the basis of future efforts to improve the efficacy of gender-confirming care.